Monday, February 1, 2010
Graphic Novels, Creativity, and the Joy of Reading.
Does it matter what your children read?
Recently both of my sons have become obsessed with graphic novels. Everything from "Batman" to "Bone" to "Calvin and Hobbes." I don't have anything against graphic novels or traditional comic books. I have enjoyed reading a few myself (there is a collection of comic books in my garage.) Up until recently though my nine-year-old son was reading "Wayside School", "Tom Swift," "Harry Potter," "The Chronicles of Narnia," and just about everythign from Andrew Clements. My five-year-old who is still learing to read loved storytime with "Ready, Freddy!," "The Curious Garden," and "Stuart Little." Neither child is a reluctant reader so I never even considered comic books and graphic novels as options for story time.
Then my children went to school and began coming home with graphic novels from the library. They were reciting stories, playing games, and pretending all in the realm of the graphic novels they were reading. Instead of being disappointed they were not reading large impressive chapter books I needed to look at the situation from a differnt angle. My kids were jazzed about literature. They were excited to use their imagination in a differnt way. They wanted to create their own books. That's pretty cool.
The early books were often just scribbles on paper with no words. The hieroglyphics only meant something to the nine and five-year-old minds of the boys who created them. But I was proud of the creativity and effort. Before long they were binding upwards of 10 illustrated pages together with tape. The stories were rudimentary, but followed a basic plot. Best of all the stories generally had nothing to do with the graphic novels they had been reading.
While we're on the topic of graphic novels, I came across this fun piece from Suvudu.com about the process brother and sister team Matthew and Jennifer Holm take in creating a "Babymouse" graphic novel for kids. Check it out, it really is quite entertaining: http://digg.com/d31HAvq
You may also want to try a couple activities with your kids.
Begin by drawing 10 - 12 squares. Make sure your squares are large enough to include a picture. You may just want to use single pages. Leave space below the squares for a couple sentences. Talk to your kids about a character. Maybe it is your child's favorite stuffed animal or lego guy. Then ask them what the story is about. What happens to the character? To get things going you write the first sentence. Let your children write the rest and have them draw pictures in each square to accompany the story.
You'll have a great time, a great memory and you may be surprised to see what stories you create together.